NIHR Infrastructure Short Placement Award for Research Collaboration (SPARC) announced successful candidates for the SPARC Awards 2018. Of the candidates that were successful, three NIHR CLAHRC NWL team members were awarded the opportunity designed to foster collaboration & enhance early researchers’ careers as well as their CVs.

NIHR CLAHRC NWL successful candidates were Mr Tomasz Szymanksi, Dr Mable Nakubulwa and Ms Meerat Kaur.

The SPARC awards allows early stage researchers supported by an NIHR Infrastructure Award to spend time in other parts of the NIHR to network, train in a specific technique or collaborate with other researchers/specialists. Expected outcomes include collaborations, publications, presentations, posters, as well as the development of new skills.

Tomasz has started his placement with NIHR CLAHRC North Thames where he will be looking at health economics and conducting a validation of the cost-effectiveness model of medication review, that was developed as part of his PhD with CLAHRC NWL, and will also be estimating the cost of an implementation strategy designed to improve uptake of medication review in acute care.

Mable has started her placement with NIHR CLAHRC West Midlands and she will be gaining further knowledge, exploring methods of evaluating the impact of complex service delivery interventions in health care.


I am currently assessing the effectiveness of two interventions: a) cloud-based CRM intervention to provide 111 callers with a more coordinated and personalised experience of NHS 111, and b) winter pilots intervention programme to improve: access to mental health professionals, patient experience and reduce inappropriate A&E attendances.

Due to complexity of health services (i.e. complex interactions between patients, healthcare providers, professionals and resources), assessing whether the above interventions achieved desirable outcomes on individual patients is challenging. In addition, available data is observational in nature, with no control groups. My knowledge regarding possible solutions to such evaluations is theoretical with limited practical experience. I would therefore greatly benefit from spending time with specialists skilled in specific methodological techniques, to help me address the above issues. – Dr Mabel Nakubulwa


Meerat’s placement is with NIHR CLAHRC South London where she is focussing on testing her PhD findings, learning about co-creation between healthcare professionals and patients/public in Quality Improvement: Ensuring rigour and relevance.

I want my research to be able to be relevant to healthcare professionals and patients/public. I hope it can be used to influence how people work together in practice, to influence improvement in healthcare design, delivery and research. Sharing my work with CLAHRC South London will enable me to assess the extent to which this could be achieved in settings where this data has not been collected.

I will learn how my research findings are understood by other audiences, by feeding back and testing my results with an audience outside of CLAHRC Northwest London. Through this, I will explore how relevant the findings are for people who may not work in quality improvement environments. I will also seek critique of my theoretical approaches and results, which will strengthen my findings as I write up.

Additionally, I would like to explore the Service User Research Enterprise. I am specifically interested in how it has been set up and how SURE deal with issues of acceptance and validity of service user research in existing traditional healthcare. This would allow me to explore the extent to which this model could be replicated in other settings, including for healthcare improvement, and may provide a useful model for my thesis. - Ms Meerat Kaur 


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